Today I’m welcoming Hannah Fielding, author of Burning Embers, a passionate love story set against the backdrop of Kenya in 1970.
Thank you for stopping by, Hannah!
All about Hannah…
1. How did your life as a writer begin?
Stories and writing have always been part of my life. My father was a great raconteur and my governess used to tell the most fabulous fairy stories – I could listen to them for hours. When I was seven she and I came to an agreement: for every story she’d tell me I would invent one in return. That is how my passion for storytelling began.
At school I consistently received first prize for my essays and my teachers often read them aloud in class. As a teenager I used to write short romantic stories during lessons and circulate them in class, which made me very popular with my peers (but less so with the nuns!). In addition, since a young age I have kept some sort of a diary where I note my feelings, ideas and things that take my fancy (or not).
During my twenties I had no time to seriously write; I was too busy discovering what the world had to offer – and once I was married and had children, I had even less to time to indulge in my passion. So once my business was flourishing and my children had flown the nest I decided to put pen to paper and channel my creative imagination into something that has always been gratifying for me and given pleasure to the people around me.
2. How did you come up with the idea for your current story?
Burning Embers began not as a story, but as a vivid landscape in my mind. The seed of the ideas was sown many nears ago when, as a schoolgirl, I studied the works of Leconte de Lisle, a French Romantic poet of the 19th century. His poems are wonderfully descriptive and vivid – about wild animals, magnificent dawns and sunsets, exotic settings and colourful vistas. Then later on, I went on holiday to Kenya with my parents and I met our family friend Mr Chiumbo Wangai, who often used to visit us. He was a great raconteur and told me extensively about his beautiful country, its tribes, its traditions and its customs. I was enthralled, and when I put pen to paper Burning Embers came to life. Burning Embers had to be written; there was too much about the place and its people that I felt passionate about.
I have had some of Leconte de Lisle’s beautiful poems translated into English by a friend, Mr John Harding. You can find them on my website at: http://www.hannahfielding.net/?cat=7.
3. How do you spend your free time? Do you have a favorite place to go and unwind?
I read: I love reading romantic novels – the thicker the book, the better.
I cook: I love cooking, using the various produce of our vegetable garden. Jams, chutneys, stuffed vine leaves (dolmadis), stuffed savoury and sweet filo pastry cushions that I serve as nibbles when I entertain, stewed fruit for winter crumbles. All for the freezer. The list could go on for ever.
I entertain: I find nothing more satisfying that having friends over; and as I often travel, it’s great to catch up with all the news.
I travel: To research my books. I find it exciting and exhilarating. Discovering new places, new people, new traditions and new cuisines.
I collect antiques: Chinese porcelain, Japanese sculptures and French and Italian glass, so you will often find me rummaging in flea markets and dark second-hand shops in the hope of discovering a treasure.
I go for long walks: I love the countryside in England and the seafront in France especially. There are many places I go for inspiration or when I have writer’s block.
4. What is your favorite scene in the book? Why?
More than a scene, my favourite part in Burning Embers is Chapter 5. This chapter encompasses so many important scenes:
- The romantic tête-à-tête dinner between Rafe and Coral
- The sensuous show at the Golden Fish
- Rafe and Coral’s first kiss and Rafe’s struggle with himself
- The altercation between Coral and her rival, the dusky dancer, Morgana
I find it a very romantic and atmospheric chapter, where the romance between the two protagonists goes into crescendo, and it is a turning point in the story.
5. Tell us about your writing process. Do you outline, or are you more of a seat of your pants type of a writer?
I have a very rigid routine which has served me well. Having researched my facts thoroughly, I plan my novel down to the smallest detail. Planning ahead, I have found, makes the writing so much easier and therefore so much more enjoyable. I use my plan as a map. I never set out on a long journey by car without a map, and the same applies to my writing.
6. What is the best piece of advice you would give to someone that wants to get into writing?
First and foremost, write from the heart. Be true to yourself and don’t compromise to please the market. Markets change, fads come and go; your work will remain.
Research your facts thoroughly. A writer today has no excuse for not getting his/her facts right. Use all the tools available to you. Travel, internet, books, films, documentaries: they’re all there to enrich your experience and make your writing journey easier.
Plan your novel down to the smallest detail. This will make your writing so much easier and therefore so much more enjoyable. A plan is your map. Would you set out on a long journey by car without a map?
Read, reread and reread. Edit, edit, edit. Go through your manuscript again and again and edit it. I know that it will break your heart to delete a phrase or even one word you have spent time agonising on, but sometimes less is better than more. Not easy advice to follow, but in the long run it does work. If you can leave the manuscript alone for a few weeks and revisit it at a later date, reading it as if it were someone else’s, then that’s even better.
Do not get discouraged. Continue to write whether you think your work is good or bad. There is no bad writing. There are good days and bad days. The more you write, the better at it you get.
7. What do you have in store next for your readers?
I have written a number of books and I have been travelling extensively, searching for new pastures in which to set my future novels.
I have written a passionate, fiery trilogy set in Andalucía, Spain, spanning three generations of a Spanish/English family, from 1950 to the present day.
I have also just finished writing a touching, deeply romantic novel that takes place in Venice and in Tuscany, Italy in 1979/1980. It opens with the Venice Carnival that has returned after a cessation of almost two centuries.
I still have many books in me. I am now in the process of researching my next historical romance trilogy, which is set in Egypt and will take my readers from 1945 to the present day. Greece is also on the map for a new Hannah Fielding romantic novel. I know that captivating country and its people very well, and Greek mythology was part of the literature course I read at university. Greece is not far from Alexandria, Egypt, where I grew up, and I have many Greek friends; besides which, I bought my wedding dress in Athens and my husband and I honeymooned on the beautiful island of Rhodes.
I so enjoy researching these books (what better excuse to visit Venice), and they are in the pipeline for publication in due course. I very much enjoy the publishing process and hearing from readers of my books. But for me, being a writer is not about publishing. It is simply about writing – writing from the heart the books that I most want to read.
Burning Embers, published by Omnific Publishing, is a contemporary historical romance novel set in Kenya in 1970. It depicts the developing attraction and love between a young and naive woman, Coral, who has come home to Africa, the land of her birth, and Rafe, a handsome, virile, commanding plantation owner who carries a dark secret heavy in his heart.
It is an evocative and passionate story of coming of age, of letting go of the past, of having faith in a person and of overcoming obstacles to love, set against the vivid and colourful backdrop of rural Africa and its culture.
Connect with Hannah Fielding
Author website: http://www.hannahfielding.net/